These are a few key words and expressions that have come in very handy while travelling. Try to learn these -or the ones that most apply to your situation- when visiting Italy. The locals will certainly appreciate the effort.
|The bare minimum|
|Hello||Buongiorno / Ciao (informal)|
|Goodbye||Arrivederci / Ciao (informal)|
|I don't know||Non lo so|
|I don't understand||Non capisco|
|I don't speak Italian||Non parlo italiano|
|Do you speak English?||Parla inglese?|
|Good to know|
|Sir, Madam, Miss||Signore, Signora, Signorina|
|Where is... / Where can I find...||Dov'è... / Dove posso trovare...|
|The entrance, the exit||L'entrata, l’uscita|
|The restroom/toilet||Il bagno|
|The train station, the bus stop||La stazione ferroviaria, la fermata dell'autobus|
|Something to eat, to drink||Qualcosa da mangiare, bere|
|How much does it cost?||Quanto costa?|
|Please, can you help me||Per favore, può aiutarmi?|
|I need (medical) help||Ho bisogno di aiuto (medico)|
|My name is||Mi chiamo|
|What is your name?||Lei come si chiama? (formal) Come ti chiami? (informal)|
|How are you?||Come sta? (formal) Come stai? (informal)|
|(I'm) good||(Sto) bene|
|And you?||E Lei? (formal), E tu? (informal)|
|I'm sorry||Mi dispiace|
As a general rule, use the formal form to address a stranger, a person older than yourself, of high status (or higher than your own), or someone serving you (receptionist, doorman, taxi driver…) The phrases above are formal/neutral by default, unless stated otherwise.
Keep in mind that when you’ve just arrived in a country, no one really expects you to know all the rules. Do your best, and if someone complains just apologize and move on. When you are short on words show respect in the way that you act instead.
Another useful tool, if you have a smartphone and an internet connection, is to use a translation app such as Google Translate. Some languages can be downloaded in advance to use in offline mode.
Image: Chat (1905) by Eugen von Blaas